Emma Luxton at Paradise Valley near Queenstown. Photo
University of Otago physical education student Emma
Luxton hopes Arsenal's loss will be the Coast to Coast's gain.
Luxton is preparing to compete in the great multisport event
for the first time, nine months after losing a bet.
She was watching her beloved Arsenal play Queen's Park
Rangers with a friend - a QPR fan - when the conversation
turned to the Coast to Coast.
Luxton, who had previously crewed for her mother when she
competed in the event, agreed to enter herself if Arsenal
lost. QPR won 2-1 and Luxton found herself Kumara-bound.
Getting to the start line on February 8 has proved a mission
for the 21-year-old but she is determined to honour both the
bet and the friend, who later died.
The $1027 cost of entry and other financial commitments were
not taken into consideration when the bet was struck. This
has proved a massive undertaking in itself.
''I didn't own a bike, or any mountain running gear,'' Luxton
''I had some savings, but not that much. So I organised a pub
quiz day and got as many people to come as I could.''
Luxton also approached local businesses and was grateful to
receive some help.
With bartering skills picked up from her father, Paul Luxton,
she obtained a bike and other gear for reasonable prices. She
also acquired the required grade 2 kayaking certificate
through an Otago Polytechnic contact for much less than the
going rate of $1000-plus.
Concerned her kayaking skills might still be lacking, Luxton
recently met up with a group paddling the Mohaka River. Eight
of the group are also contesting the Coast to Coast.
''It was a huge confidence boost. I only came out of the boat
twice. The others came out heaps.
''It probably helped that I am doing the race in a borrowed
Barracuda Beachcomber kayak, and others are doing it in
multisport boats that I can't even sit in without falling
Sport, and particularly football, has played a major role in
Luxton's life. Her father is from London and grew up an avid
She began playing football seven years ago, representing
Kapiti Coast at under-17 level for three years before coming
to Dunedin to study.
Luxton has played for Otago University for the past three
years, in both premier and senior women's grades, winning the
golden boot award this year. Her talent as a midfielder or
striker was recognised when she was selected to play for
Footballsouth in the national women's league last year.
She is gaining an insight into the game during the holidays
through work experience in events management for the
Luxton also entered the full Dunedin marathon in September,
recording a creditable time of 4hr 32min to finish 26th in
the women's section, on no experience and solely a fitness
base from football.
''It took me four days to recover,'' she said.
''Initially, I had entered the half-marathon as two of my
flatmates had also entered the half. One pointed out that the
Coast to Coast is pretty much a marathon plus a long bike
ride on day one, so wondered if I should be doing the full.
''To which I said, `Yeah, good point, better enter the full,
Between work, football and university studies, her training
for the marathon was limited to one 20km training run.
After the marathon, Luxton realised how much training she
needed to do, so upped the ante with runs up the Pineapple
Track and cycling around the peninsula.
She will be joined on the two-day course on February 8 by her
mother, Carol Exton, who will be contesting the event for the
''I have two goals: One to finish, the other to beat my